Forty years ago, February 19, 1979: China-Vietnam rift

Forty years ago, February 19, 1979: China-Vietnam rift

Vietnamese forces have stalled the drive of a Chinese armoured column reinforced by infantry units five kilometres inside the rugged northwestern mountain province of Hoang Lien Song, the Voice of Vietnam said. The broadcast, monitored in Bangkok, said that a column of 10 Chinese T-62 heavy tanks had ground to a halt and was awaiting reinforcements from China.

The column, originally consisting of 18 Chinese tanks, began crossing a floating bridge near Muong Khuong village in north-western Vietnam, but Vietnamese forces managed to blow up the bridge destroying eight of the tanks, the Vietnamese claim. Thai intelligence sources indicated that the Chinese infantry too had been stalled by barriers consisting of sharpened bamboo sticks and landmines laid by retreating Vietnamese units.

Congress (I) Boycott

Congress (I) MPs will boycott the joint session of the two Houses. President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy is due to address the joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, marking the beginning of the 13-week budget session. The boycott decision was conveyed to the President by C M Stephen, leader of the Congress-I in the Lok Sabha and Kamalapati Tripathi, party leader in the Rajya Sabha. The two Congress-I leaders met the President and submitted a memorandum listing their reasons for abstaining from the joint session.

Vajpayee’s China Visit

Not concealing his anxiety at the Chinese action against Vietnam, External Affairs Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee cut short his China visit by a day and returned home to a quiet, low-key farewell. He looked a trifle disappointed as he boarded the Hovercraft to Hong Kong, rather like a well-settled batsman who returns to the dressing room in the last over of the day. Canton was only the last stretch of his one-week visit to China, which had so far seemed satisfactory. During the three days in Peking, Vajpayee talked to Chairman
Hua Guofeng, Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping and Foreign Minister Huang Hua, reviewing both the international scene and bilateral issues.